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Kristina Rowe

A fun entertainment venue with high-tech and old-school gaming has arrived in Dallas: Called Two Bit Circus, it's a concept from Los Angeles that combines a game arcade with virtual reality for groups and fans of all ages.

Two Bit was founded by Brent Bushnell (son of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell) and Eric Gradman in 2018, who opened their first location in downtown Los Angeles. Dallas is their first expansion outside of California, and they're located at the Shops at Park Lane.

In anticipation of its November 18 opening day, Two Bit Circus president Kim Schaefer led media through a tour of the 35,000-square-foot space, promising that "you don't have to be into gaming, you just have to like to have fun."

"We want this to be a place where people put away their phones and enjoy time together," Shaefer said. "From families to dating couples to coworkers, it's fun for anyone from 8 to 58."

I really liked the mix of old and new and the tongue-in-cheek references to carnival things. Also, I'm not their typical customer, and I found it easy and inviting to play the games even though I'm not at all into gaming.

The space is broken down into areas that include:

The Midway boasts easy-to-play games where players can get physical such as the game where players throw balls at balloons to pop them, similar to the popular mobile game "Bejeweled." One game, "Mother Ducker," lets players steer large wheels to aim at targets on a duck pond; it's exclusive to the Dallas location.

The VR Arena, which uses virtual reality headsets to create an array of different worlds with a choice of robots, dragons, zombies, and more including single-player experiences such as "Birdly: Jurassic Park," which simulates flying. You lie down on a platform, don a VR headset, and move your arms to flap your "wings," soar, dive, and navigate potential obstacles on the landscape.

Story Rooms are like escape rooms but without the sense of dread or need to escape anything, and they engage everyone in your group, since each player must help the team complete the task.

Tasks might include performing surgery in Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School or a hilarious take on the "I Love Lucy" out-of-control candy factory line that will keep players laughing as they work at a breakneck pace to make candy.

Jelly Attack, another unique-to-Dallas experience, uses virtual reality but without headsets. Digital foes are projected on all four walls of the room, and since the action is projected around the room with no screen boundaries, the activity is especially accommodating for players using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

The Arcade includes classics like "Ms. Pac Man," "Centipede", "Street Fighter 2;" newer arcade games like "Killer Queen" and "Heavy Burger;" and some Two Bit Circus originals.

Food & Drink

Kristina Rowe

Two players play a midway game at Two Bit Circus by throwing balls at a screen displaying vitrual balloons.

Two Bit Circus

Kristina Rowe

The VIP Lounge at Two Bit Circus.

Two Bit Circus

arcade

The Arcade at Two Bit Circus offers classic, late-model, and custom game experiences.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

two bit circus

Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School is one of several themed story rooms at Two Bit Circus in Dallas.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

two bit circus

Between gaming rounds, players can grab a seat at the bar.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

The menu includes big-top classics like hot dogs, corny dogs, plus chicken tenders, a chicken sandwich, pizza by the slice, wings, burgers, fries, and nachos. Snacks include popcorn, pretzels, ice cream, and cotton candy.

A full bar complete with a robot bartender has cocktails plus a dozen beers on tap; a VIP lounge offers bottle service.

Location & Pricing

The venue is at 8303 Park Ln. #200, but I had a hard time finding the place, and apparently I wasn't the only one. The entrance is actually via a parking garage, but The Shops at Park Lane has multiple parking garages and entries, and if you pick the wrong one, Two Bit Circus is not easy to find.

The pricing is also confusing. They call everything a "package" but it's basically a cover charge, and for a single player, it starts at $35. In its simplest state, you'll buy a card with a value of $35, $50, or $100 (or $25 each for a family of four.) You wave the card over a pay pad on the games and you also use the card for food and drinks.

You'll almost certainly end up spending more money. And everyone has to buy a package, including parents who weren't planning on playing. The games may be easy to play, but figuring out how much credit you need and which package it fits into is more of a challenge than it needs to be.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Nickelback's upcoming tour stop rocks this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Juggernaut rock band Nickelback is touring summer 2023 with stop in Dallas. Nickelback is back: Canadian-born rock juggernaut Nickelback is going on tour in summer 2023 to support their new album, Get Rollin'. Called the "Get Rollin’ Tour," it'll hit 38 cities, including Dallas on July 22 at Dos Equis Pavilion.

2. Behind the wall of greenery and other Dallas restaurant must-haves. If you're a Dallas restaurant in 2023, you're nowhere without a wall of greenery. Walls covered with greenery are among the features restaurants are deploying these days to lure in diners. Food is still the official reason people go out to eat, but restaurants these days are more experience-oriented. Here are few features being rolled out at restaurants around town.

3. Affluent Dallas neighbor cashes in as the richest city in Texas for 2023. North Texans wanting a glimpse into the lives of the 1 percent won't have to travel far to get a peek. Southlake has been named the richest city in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

4. South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas' Oak Cliff slings perfect pies in pizza desert. Dallas has plenty of pretty pizza these days — but nearly all of it is found north of I-30. So let's hear it for South Polk Pizzeria, a new shop that opened in late December in Oak Cliff, at 3939 S. Polk St #527, just off US-67 and north of Loop 12, slinging the same kind of artisanal pies that are being slung across Deep Ellum, Oak Lawn, and North Dallas.

5. 12 Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants score coveted James Beard Award nominations. The James Beard Foundation has revealed the semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. A dozen Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants have been included in both national and regional categories. Here are the nominees.

Event celebrating Dallas' Braniff Airways a must for fashion & flying buffs

Fashion News

Dallas' original hometown airline is having a moment: Braniff International will celebrate its 95th anniversary with an event that promises to be a must for fashion and airline buffs alike.

Called The Braniff Style Tour & Fashion Show, it'll take place on March 11 at the Alexander Mansion, with David Preziosi, Braniff Airways Foundation Board Member and Executive Director of Texas Historical Foundation, presenting a program on what a release calls one of the most revolutionary airlines in history.

The event will include lunch and a mini fashion show featuring Braniff’s epochal flight attendant uniforms created by haute couture fashion designers Emilio Pucci and Halston.

Braniff International began in June 1928 with a small Stinson Detroiter single-engine six-passenger airplane that flew its first flight from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. It operated as an airline until 1982.


braniff airlines stewardess Braniff Airlines flight attendants decked out in stylish uniforms.Courtesy photo

Braniff Airways is now a branding/marketing, online retail and historic airliner tour firm with a portfolio of licensing agreements worldwide. Its history has been preserved by Braniff Airways Foundation, an organization created by Richard Ben Cass, a former pilot and Braniff collector and expert whose book Braniff Airways: Flying Colors was published in 2015.

The Foundation curates the Braniff International Heritage Archives, formerly Braniff Flying Colors Collection, which contains Cass' lifetime collection, and includes original Braniff Airways Advertising Department records and archives.

The collection was founded in 1972, and has become the largest and most comprehensive collection of Braniff memorabilia that includes more than 1000 crew uniforms.

The Foundation also acts as an advocacy group for Braniff buildings in danger of demolition, including the mid-century themed Braniff Operations and Maintenance Base in conjunction with lead Flying Crown Land Group.

In 2014, they authored a nomination for the Braniff Hostess College to determine its eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The Hostess College is undergoing a complete restoration and will become a public use facility in the future.

The fashion show promises lots of stretchy fabrics and zowie colors, while the lunch menu is a fun throwback, inspired by vintage Braniff flight menu, with chicken Romanoff, a garden vegetable medley, and strawberry cheesecake.

The Braniff Style Tour & Fashion Show is March 11. Doors open at 10:30 am, with the style show beginning promptly at 11 am, and lunch at 12 pm. Tickets are $60 for "First Class" (includes lunch) and $20 for "Coach" (style show only). Tickets are available online. Proceeds benefit the restoration of the Alexander Mansion.

New play about Uvalde shooting takes the stage at DFW university

#UvaldeStrong

A TCU faculty member has written a new play called For the Love of Uvalde: A Play Inspired by the Robb Elementary School, and it's premiering January 28 both in-person on-campus and online via streaming.

Playwright Ayvaunn Penn, who is part of the Theatre TCU faculty, also wrote a play in 2020 inspired by the Botham Jean shooting by police officer Amber Guyger.

The premiere staged reading of For the Love of Uvalde promises a similar evening of art for social change, paired with a panel-led community discussion. This staged reading will feature select songs and monologues from the show.

The original play uses testimonies to explore the aftermath and varying viewpoints of the families, politicians, and medical professionals affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last May. Nineteen children and two adults were killed in the deadliest shooting ever at a Texas public school.

Panel members for the discussion include Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, TCU Chief Inclusion Officer; James McQuillen, director of Theatre for Youth at Casa Mañana; Professor Lisa Devine, UNT Theatre for Social Change professor; and Shania Tari, M.S, LMFT-A & EMDR trained.

A collaboration between Theatre TCU, TCU School of Music, and El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, the event is free to attend, though tickets are required and may be reserved here. It begins at 6:30 pm at PepsiCo Recital Hall at the Mary D. and F. Howard Walsh Center for Performing Arts on the TCU campus.

El Progreso Memorial Library will also stream the event on YouTube so that community members may join and participate in the discussion and reflection.